Home / HVACR / ‘Landmark’ prosecution of online seller welcomed by REFCOM

‘Landmark’ prosecution of online seller welcomed by REFCOM

REFCOM, the air conditioning and refrigeration industry’s largest safety register, has welcomed the successful prosecution of the online sales company Appliances Direct (AD) for breaching F-Gas Regulations.

AD’s holding company Buy It Direct (BID) has been fined £37,500 following legal action taken by the Environment Agency (EA) acting on information provided by REFCOM in July 2020. This revealed that the company was selling split air conditioning heat pump systems without meeting its statutory obligation to ensure the appliances would be installed by properly qualified engineers.

The online sales firm was found to be in breach of F-Gas Regulation article 11 paragraph 5 which seeks to ensure equipment charged with refrigerant gas is safely installed to protect the public and the environment.

BID Chief Executive Officer Nick Glynne had argued in the company’s defence that purchasers “could not proceed to actual purchase without agreeing contractual terms which included installation by a relevantly qualified engineer”.

However, this was dismissed by the prosecutor on the grounds that there was “no evidence that the installation will be properly carried out”. In fact, the judgement found that 94 per cent of AD’s sales to end-users were lacking evidence indicating compliance with the regulations.

Graeme Fox, Technical Director of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) which operates the REFCOM register said: “This is a landmark prosecution that sets a precedent for anyone trying to circumvent these important public safety regulations using online sales platforms.

“REFCOM and its members have been raising the alarm about online sellers for several years as they represent a vulnerability in the system that can lead to equipment falling into the wrong hands. Most distributors and wholesalers are fully aware of their responsibilities and ensure they receive confirmation of safe installation before selling refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, but we remain vigilant for any that might seek to act irresponsibly for profit.”


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